A Cordial Invitation

One cannot overestimate the importance of cordials and liqueurs to the sales performance of a retail beverage alcohol operation: Although these products hold only about a 12% market share in the distilled spirits industry, their high profit margins represent an important revenue stream for retail stores in the control states. And their flavor appeal among a wide range of consumers — particularly eager holiday shoppers — no doubt will solidify their presence on the shelves in the months ahead.


Many retailers are witnessing vital sales in the cordials and liqueurs category. For example, at the Hampton store on southbound I-95 in New Hampshire, manager Mike O’Connor observed that cordials and liqueurs comprise one of the most important profit centers in his store. “Cordials accounted for 14% of the store’s total volume in the month of June,” he said. “It’s a high-profit category, so we like to get them out on the floor as much as possible. And they sell very well.”


At the same time, O’Connor noted, these products are usually price-promoted less frequently than others, which makes their impact on profits that much more meaningful. “The liqueurs are generally more expensive, but whenever there is a discount, they go very quickly,” he said, providing the recent example of Benedictine/B & B from Bacardi-Martini USA. “[During a promotion] the company offered about a $5 to $6 savings on the 750 ml bottles. We sold as much as we had, and we’re trying to get more.”


Recent supplier developments in the cordial and liqueurs category are indeed helping to spur interest at the retail level. While the category encompasses a wide range of different types of products, a number of high-margin brands are promoting themselves as ingredients in popular drinks, specifically Margaritas and a variety of Martini cocktails.


For example, Grand Marnier, Di Saronno Amaretto and Cointreau have all made the Margarita a centerpiece of their marketing programs. Even newer cordial products, like Barton Brands’ Twisted Sheila’s, are tapping into the Margarita’s broad appeal (in this case, the Electric Margarita).


Martinis flavored with a variety of different cordials are also making a mark in upscale bars and restaurants around the country. While the resurgence of the Martini is by now mainstream, these relatively newer concoctions — drinks such as the Chocolate Martini made with Godiva and the Raspberry Martini made with Chambord — are playing to the consumer’s desire to experiment with new and different flavor combinations.


In addition, other well-known cordials have had success publicizing specific branded drinks, such as the Kahl

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